When we were young, the moral questions we faced seemed fairly straightforward. Should I lie to my parents? Should I cheat on a test? As adults we recognize that the most important moral issues we face are subtle. Here are a few daily temptations we face and suggestions on how to become the man or woman you were meant to be:
- Withholding Your Best Self.
At Mass we begin by asking forgiveness for what we have done and what we have failed to do. Often what we have failed to do presents the more significant moral lapse. Have I withheld my encouragement or my attention? Do I withhold forgiveness or kindness? Stop to think of ways you withhold your gifts while with your family, at work, or in the community, and then bring the gift of your best self to the world.
Not Dealing With a Chronic Core Problem.
Core problems are often ones that everyone sees but nobody addresses. They might be bad habits, faulty responses to stress, or over-the-top emotional reactions. Whatever the problem, the moral challenge is to face it and deal with it. The help may come in the form of prayer, talking openly to a friend about the problem, or seeing a professional counselor. Morality is not always about remaining strong; frequently it is about reaching out for strength where it may be found.
Getting Paralyzed by the Many Needs in the World.
Anyone who pays attention to the news can’t help but be aware of the enormous amount of need in the world. There are days when you are likely to feel overwhelmed. Here is a strategy to overcome empathy fatigue: pick one or two causes, research them, and do what you can to contribute. No one can do everything, but the moral distance between doing something and doing nothing is significant.
Letting Fear Guide Your Life.
You may be surprised by how much of what you do is guided by fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing your possessions, fear of not being respected--any fear that may sway your life. Fear can certainly serve a valid purpose, but it ought to be tempered by an underlying faith. Trusting in God is the greatest antidote to fear because it allows us make good use of our fear. Once you’ve decided on a course of action that you nonetheless fear, acknowledge your fear and move forward. Such an act is an act of faith.
Choosing Easy Answers to Tough Issues.
We are often tempted to settle for simplistic solutions when difficult decisions need to be made. Living a moral life means being willing to be patient when deliberating tough questions, whether they involve family relationships, work, community or international issues. The strategy for a mature morality is to be willing to live in the disquiet of the questions without being swayed by others that may make light of our emotions and fears.